Harbeth, Dynaudio Mark 25th; Onkyo Goes Wireless

At least two renowned loudspeaker manufacturers commemorate their 25th anniversaries in 2002 and both are celebrating with new product releases.

Britain's Harbeth Loudspeakers will fete its "Silver Jubilee" with the UK debut of its Monitor 30 ($2711) at the Hi-Fi Show and AV Expo at London Heathrow's Le Meridien Hotel on September 14 and 15. "These speakers have received rapturous reviews in leading US magazines," states a late-August announcement. "The model is already selling well in North America and in the Far East—Britain, here we come!"

Harbeth is one of the few loudspeaker brands from Britain's golden age of audio that still survive as independent UK-based companies. Many others have been acquired by multinational conglomerates that have moved production and marketing out of the UK. Harbeth, however, "remains British through-and-through," according to the announcement.

The Heathrow show "will provide an opportunity for people to come and meet those behind this most respected speaker brand and hear the latest models," said Harbeth managing director Alan Shaw, who sources components from the UK and manufactures speakers at his Sussex base of operations. "Harbeth already has a world-wide reputation for creating the highest quality speakers, based on the best traditions of BBC-type broadcast monitors. Now, as one of the last truly British hi-fi brands, Harbeth is set for increased UK exposure!"

Denmark's Dynaudio is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, with what it calls "a special anniversary product in the timeless tradition of its fine hand-crafted models," the new Dynaudio Special Twenty-Five. With aesthetics based on the company's Contour Series, the Twenty-Five incorporates advanced woofer designs developed for the Evidence models and the innovative Esotar2 tweeter technology spawned from the new Confidence Series. The result is said to be "a modern audiophile masterpiece."

Available at the end of September, Dynaudio's Special Twenty-Five will retail for $4800 per pair and will carry a 25-year warranty. The new speaker will make its official debut at the upcoming CEDIA show, to be held in Minneapolis September 25–29, 2002. CEDIA attendees eager to see and hear the Twenty-Five should check out booth #408. Further information is available from Dynaudio's director of sales and marketing, Michael Manousselis.

Wireless Fi: While not an anniversary celebration, Onkyo and its Integra division have announced the first of a broadening line of Ethernet-compatible high-end audio products based on the company's "Net-Tune" technology. The products are indicative of how far audio is diverging from its two-channel analog roots.

"Net-Tune provides an easy way to get music from one place to another on a computer network using products that function much like traditional audio components," states an August 27 announcement. "Up to 12 different users can use separate Net-Tune–ready audio components (or 'clients' in network jargon) to independently access a music library 'server' and Internet radio over wired or wireless Ethernet local area networks (LAN)."

Net-Tune allows anyone to plug into and access music over Ethernet "without needing training as a LAN administrator or using complex PC software," said Mark Friedman, senior vice president, Onkyo USA. "These systems are easy and intuitive to use, and much more capable than current, first generation network audio products. If current limited-access music servers can be thought of as narrow country roads, Net-Tune is a 12-lane highway."

There are two types of components in Net-Tune systems: servers and clients. The NAS-2.3 server is an Integra-only product that stores the digital music. It uses an 80-gigabyte hard-disk drive to hold almost 1300 hours of music as storage-efficient MP3 files. It also has a built-in Compact Disc player and MP3 encoder for "ripping" audio CDs onto the server. In the Onkyo version of the system, a networked personal computer, running proprietary Net-Tune Central software, is used in place of a dedicated server.

Net-Tune clients are advanced audio/video receivers and compact audio systems that can be connected to the network to access music files from the server. The dedicated clients look much like compact bookshelf audio systems, while Net-Tune–ready receivers include all the functions of a high-end home theater receiver, plus Net-Tune. Both can access music on the server (Integra) or PC (Onkyo) by album name, artist, genre, or by user-assigned folders that can contain customized play lists.

Initially, Integra's Net-Tune product line will consist of two high-end audio/video receivers, the $1300 DTR-7.3 and the $2200 DTR-8.3; a LAN client receiver, the $500 NAC-2.3; and a hard-disk music server, the $2000 NAS-2.3. Onkyo will have one high-end audio/video receiver, the $1500 TX-NR900; a LAN client receiver, the $500 NC-500; and Net-Tune Central server software. These products will ship to dealers in September and October. Onkyo and Integra are the first premium brands to make the move to wireless networked audio on a large scale, said Onkyo USA national manager Don Milks.

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